JOHN A. BURRUS. Among the stockmen and farmers whose efforts have placed him in the category of successful men of Clay county and whose operations have given him a wide acquaintance over northern Texas, is John A. Burrus, of Hurnville, the worthy subject of this review. Except his birth, all he is and all he has comes to him as a reward form Texas and to no other state or clime could be attribute the elements in his makeup which have been responsible for his material achievements.
Henry county, Missouri, was the birthplace of John A. Burrus and the date was February 24, 1854. His father, William O. Burrus, was an extensive farmer of that county until the outbreak of the war, when, in sympathy with the Confederate cause, he came to Texas and joined the southern army. At the close of the war he sold his Missouri farm and in 1866 brought his family among his new friends in the south and settled in Cooke county, Texas. There he resumed his old mode of civil life with as much success as he had had in his old home before the war. He died near Gainesville in 1879, at sixty years of age, surviving Sarah Harvey, his first wife, many years.
William O. Burrus was of Tennessee origin. In his father’s family was a brother, James Burrus, who served in the Confederate army, dying later at Springfield, Missouri, leaving a family of two sons and five daughters. Sarah Burrus passed away in Missouri just after the war closed, leaving a family of eleven children, and in time Mr. Burns married Rebecca Wood for his second wife. Four children resulted form this union. Of the first family are Martin I., James Riley, William Y., Nancy S., Elizabeth, John A., Reuben W., George W., Lovina, Jeff Davis and Sarah O. In the second family were Rebecca E., Belle, Delphia and Lovina N.
Our subject’s educational advantages were not good and he was forced to begin life poorly equipped along this line. Subscription schools were yet in vogue in his boyhood and not more than three months of each winter did he get to attend school. At about eighteen years of age he ceased to be numbered among the pupils of his district and soon thereafter commenced the real side of life. He went to work for Putnam and Cloud at Sugden, ranchmen, at wages of twenty dollars and twenty-five a month and finally four hundred dollars a year. He was with that firm four years and saved seven hundred dollars out of his wages, and on leaving them bought an interest in three hundred and sixty head of cattle with John Dobkins and ranched them near Terral, Indian Territory, two years, and two years on the old Vaden ranch, at which time the bunch brought fifteen thousand dollars. The next year Mr. Burrus stocked up with three hundred and twenty head and took a fourth interest in seven thousand five hundred acres of land near Iowa Park, and after holding the cattle there three years sold out his entire interest at a great sacrifice, the wire-cutting epoch having then begun. After dissolving with Dobkins all he had left was one hundred and fifty cattle, and fourteen horses, and these he held on Red river four years. About 1891 he bought a quarter section of land and began raising feed. As his herd has increased he has extended his dominions until he now owns above eighteen hundred acres, under fence, with four hundred acres under plow. He handle some, three hundred head of cattle all the time, and has been a shipper several years.
In August, 1890, Mr. Burrus married in Clay county Miss Belle Gibson, a daughter of W. P. Gibson, originally from Kentucky, thence to Missouri, and finally in Texas. Mr. Gibson was married in Cooper county, Missouri, and Mrs. Burrus is the first of his children, the others being, Nora, Dow, David, Mattie, Ella, Bulah, and Ethel. Mr. and Mrs. Burrus’ children are: Ivy, who died in infancy; Austin Dale; Loma; Charlotte, who died in 1902; Fay; and Alice.
The foregoing review has barely touched upon a few points in the life of Mr. Burrus. It is intended to mention those events which, in a general way, unfold and present the details relating to the minutiae of life to the field of unwritten history and eventually to become tradition itself.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas,Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 496-497.